Author: Iginio Ugo Tarchetti
Publisher: Oneworld Classics
Publication Date: May 2010
Genre: Literary FictionSource: Birthday Gift
After a passionate but ill-fated love affair with the beautiful married woman Clara, the young army officer Giorgio is transferred from Milan to Parma, where he meets the sickly and unattractive Fosca, the cousin of his commander. Although initially repelled by her, he becomes fascinated by her and slowly succumbs to her morbid, manipulative charms. (Goodreads Synopsis)
I have been wanting to read this book for a while as it was used as the basis for the Stephen Sondheim musical Passion, which I really love. One of the things I most enjoyed in this book was seeing how closely Sondheim kept to the text, lifting lyrics directly from the prose and dialogue.
This is a story of love and obsession, told with a great deal of wit as the author comments on bourgeois ideals of love. It has elements of a satirical social commentary and yet is also an engaging story of love - or lust depending on how you want to read it.
I came to this book, already knowing the story, but it was still fascinating to follow Giorgio as he experienced two very different women's love for him. All the characters in this story are flawed in some way, but that makes them all the more real and believable. That said, none of the characters really draw the reader to them completely and so you follow their tale with a certain detachment and a more analytical overview.
This book is not going to thrill everyone, but it should be of interest to fans of the type of literary fiction that has a psychological depth to it.